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sapphire89

Nordic Crush

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Hi all,

It's finally time to start this blog that I've been dying to start.. Literally, itching fingers!

And here's how the story goes~

Somewhere in 2012 when my then bf was in Canada on exchange, we started talking about the "queues" for flats and how we knew of people that couldn't get a number even after 8 tries. The horror and disappointment these friends experienced were not lost to us and we decided given the lag time for building, we were going to try our luck with applications as well. It was an in thing then, I'm sure it's still the in thing now.

True to the high demands back then, our first application fell through! :~ To be fair, we weren't expecting to get it. After all it was the premium flat in Punggol with the balcony units 11x or something oversubscribed. That was one of my dream home styles, having a balcony! Well, I'll have to settle for a service yard and consider it "THE BALCONY" then. *Sighs*

So when we got the it the next time with a decent queue number to boot, we were like "wow.. that was easy?!?" :blink: Imagine our embarrassment when we told the same friends who still hadn't got there flats. :unsure:

Fast forward 2015

It's been 3 years now and we've grown up, graduated from university, accepted that we will never get any of the carrot grants that the govt has dangled for making flats more affordable (20k then turned to 40k now), and engaged to be married next year, we are finally planning for our new home together...

Ok it's really just me with the planning and the fiance to approve the plans and the budgets. I'm the one with the very specific ideas including a kitchen island (woohoo!) and he's my true blue CFO (give me the main points! chop!). As you can already tell, if you leave it up to me to decide, I'd think we'd be or at least be going bankrupt by now. There's so much to learn from the forums here that, it's also time for me to pay it forward.

We've actually signed our IDs on over the weekend and I will share a little later our interview process with the 4 we picked out and how we ended up with the ONE! Hurray! *Jumps with joy*.

Meanwhile, I'm sharing my floorplan so that you can guess what I plan to do with the place! You will note how interesting where the household shelter is placed unlike the convention of blocking the kitchen wall off.

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Till then, hasta la vista, baby! *winks*

XOXO,

Sapphira

 

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Hi Sapphire89

Congrats on your new place!! The layout of your house is almost exactly the same as the 1 I took, HHS being unconventional....except mine is 3 years later... :bangwall:

Excited to see how your new place would turn out to be! :good:

 

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Back again!

I lived in Oslo for about 6 months previously and I loved the place dearly from the architecture to the minimalist interiors yet keeping it functional, cosy and classy all at the same time. And I loved the cold. Only downside was Oslo was immensely expensive place to live in as an exchange student.

One thing I reflected just before I left was how conflicted I was about the place. I loved the large spaces the land provided me with, the white and the woods. We had a little lake about 10 mins away which froze during the winter. But I was soul-weary. I missed the city, the sounds, and to an extent the crowd. All the hustle and bustle of it. Sounds like a joke but I did miss the lack of space.

As such, choosing the flat that we were going to live in, it largely influenced me and the fiance to pick the 5-room over 4-rooms. The extra living room space we felt would help make the entire apartment look more open and spacious. We're saying bye bye to higher GST vouchers and U-save vouchers.

Lucky us! The unit that was chosen in the end, as you have already noticed in my floor plan, would allow me to take the entire wall down and expand the living area further. Big whoppeee!

Ok I can see you concerns coming already. You can't aircon the living area! You're not going to be able to do heavy cooking with the open concept kitchen you have.. Rest assured! I've got it all covered! :good:

We decided to install glass panels to expand and at the same time box up the kitchen demarcating the space. The full height panels would bring the kitchen space to the living room and the living space to the kitchen visually.

Here are some photos that got me inspired~

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This expansion also gave us an option of including what seems to be a rarity in HDB flats. A full fledged kitchen island counter.

On one side, we could sit and have our breakfast together and not need to use the main dining area (reserved for entertaining and dinners!). The counter top space afforded to us would also increased as a result and I will be able to do my food preparation on the island. Drawers in the island will also allow me to get an increase storage capacity as both sides of the island will be made usable. Drawing back to my Nordic experience, my colour scheme reflects my reminisce of the days past.

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The large kitchen is going to be the main feature of our first home and despite the cost that will be eventually incurred in making this dream come true, we thought it'd be a good investment. The future hubby also commented to every single ID we interviewed that now I will no longer have a choice but to cook all the time! Lucky him then I guess...

Or so I'll let him think for the moment! Who's going to do all the cleaning??? :notti:

Be back with more ideas for the other parts of the house!

XOXO,

Sapphira

 

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Hi Sapphire89

Congrats on your new place!! The layout of your house is almost exactly the same as the 1 I took, HHS being unconventional....except mine is 3 years later... :bangwall:

Excited to see how your new place would turn out to be! :good:

Thanks Desmond!

Wow! You're on the forum already despite another 3 year wait! I only found this place about 4 months back and I've stalked it since then. It's fun reading other people's recounts of their renovation process and learning from them! But it also makes you wish you had the house ready so you can get your hands dirty and decorate!

 

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Good morning peeps!

Rise and shine for another day! Seems like I only have time to do short updates like this in the mornings~ Good stretch on my fingers to keep me going for the day! :sport-smiley-018::sport-smiley-003:

I've finished updating on the kitchen so moving on to the living area~

There's really nothing much that we're doing for the living area.The idea is to keep the living area bright, light, and airy so we're not including built in. Following with the Scandinavian design, we're looking into "building" a brick wall and filling the recess with it. Thereafter, we will buy a TV console and place a 40 - 50 inch TV on it.

Right here is there any suggestions on which brand of TVs we should get?? What about UHD TVs? Are they worth the buck?

We're going for a ceiling fan in the area as well. I've heard KDK's good and FANCO and also the one I love most for the bamboo blades (sounds like an anime) THE Haiku! Think this is going to be the only ceiling fan in the house so we'd like to invest in something good. Personally, I love air conditioning but I can live with the living area being fan cooled! Me and the fiance are big on saving electricity on normal days.

You mean there are abnormal days?? Did you see the haze this week? Couldn't see MBS from my office window on Monday. And also if we have guests over for dinner parties we'll probably have the living room aircon on while we enjoy steamboat~

Here's some inspiration photos for the go~

Look at the lovely craftstone brick wall here. I've got this off Pinterest but I do think it belongs to one of the owners here on Renotalk T-blog. Big SHOUT OUT to you!! I'm so envious you've got it!! Thanks for becoming an inspiration for my place too. I love the rustic colour that still keeps the main base white but I think I have more or less settled on doing a STUCCO brick wall instead. That way it keeps the dusting to the minimum and I can also prevent mold from growing which I heard craftstone may sometimes be prone to if the place is too humid. The grooves and porousness of the craftstone also makes it so easy to trap dust. We've both got sensitive noses so dust is a big no no! :no:

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No built-ins for us and we're going so a simple console to hold the TV. No mounting too I don't want any holes in my TO BE Gorgeous wall. I like the standing lamp there and I might find a similar one too but now I'm toying with the idea of placing a birch colour 2 by 4 KALLAX unit next or backed against the wall of the household shelter. Either that or I keep the standing lamp there and put in a comfy, to sink into chair right in that corner for my/the fiance's reading pleasure.

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And just look at this sofa below here! The clean lines, the soft grey complimented by the soft peach colours. I'm wishing I can find something like this! Anyone has any ideas where I can get something like this? Otherwise, I'll have to fall back on the Cody Modular Sofa from Castlery.

Also that geometric copper mirror pattern on the wall. It so pulls in the pink and peaches in the room. I think IKEA sells the geometric mirrors but how do I copper-fy it? Any advice?

Just like in the picture, I'm going to place my dining area right behind the sofa so it takes up the area that was meant by HDB for us to use as a study. A big wooden table it is!

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Finally I'm going to do a ledge to place photos/prints/canvases of different sizes on the wall right where the dining area is. It will be like below but for the whole length of the wall. I'm starting to think I should have hired a contractor and manage this whole thing myself... (>.<)

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Till next time! Adios!

XOXO,
Sapphira (I love reading fiction and adventure novels, love this nick reminds me of my birthstone and the fictional world of dragons *wink*)

Edited by sapphire89
 

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As for TV brand, it seems like Samsung is more popular than others. Electronics is more about luck in fact, if you go with the few big name brands, you should be fine with any in fact. It is more dependent on luck if you would get a lemon product or not.

Depending on your media consumption, for UHD, the sources now are not a lot for now. If I am not wrong, mediacorp's digital should be until 1080p, so UHD may be overkill for now but could be more future proof. If you watch a lot of blu-ray, then UHD may be worth it.

I recommend getting the biggest size TV you can since it is likely you will get used to the size after awhile.

 

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Hi Sapphire,

Wow, I'm really excited about your reno project after seeing the reference picture. I was like you taken in by the nordic, scandinavian design because I love the big airy white space and using of wood etc to add texture and color to the space.

Can see that you already have the design direction so it will be much easier to articulate it with your ID. After discussing with your ID on the color and design of your space, next will be the choosing of the furniture, lighting etc which are suitable to your theme and all these are the minor details which will either compliment or bring down your theme. Stay true to your nordic, scandinavian design and I'm sure the end result will be a beautiful home.

For TV, I go for Sony because I felt that the projected colors are more natural while Samsung colors are over saturated. For a 5 room living room, i think 55 inch will be ideal size. :)

 

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Hi Sapphire,

Wow, I'm really excited about your reno project after seeing the reference picture. I was like you taken in by the nordic, scandinavian design because I love the big airy white space and using of wood etc to add texture and color to the space.

Can see that you already have the design direction so it will be much easier to articulate it with your ID. After discussing with your ID on the color and design of your space, next will be the choosing of the furniture, lighting etc which are suitable to your theme and all these are the minor details which will either compliment or bring down your theme. Stay true to your nordic, scandinavian design and I'm sure the end result will be a beautiful home.

For TV, I go for Sony because I felt that the projected colors are more natural while Samsung colors are over saturated. For a 5 room living room, i think 55 inch will be ideal size. :)

Hi v4xystar! Thanks for the encouragement! Glad to know more people with the love for the theme! Hopefully you stay tuned to the reno! :)

The design direction was something I had been working on for quite a couple of months before we decided to start searching for interior designers. This helped us a lot as we were able to look at the quotations provided and decide which were absolute necessities that we required, what items could be compromised to bring the price down to our budget and what items we absolutely didn't want or need. We've actually signed our ID last weekend and had some fun picking the colour of our laminates and walls and we are now waiting on them to put up their first draft of the 3D images. I'm sooo looking forward to that! :dribble:

Thanks for the advice on the TV brand! I hadn't thought of it from that perspective before. I think we're so bombarded by images of intensely vibrant colours that we forget totally about the fact that the colours may not actually look realistic. I think 55 inches was what my ID said would be the max I could put in my living room given the space allowed for the dining area.

As for TV brand, it seems like Samsung is more popular than others. Electronics is more about luck in fact, if you go with the few big name brands, you should be fine with any in fact. It is more dependent on luck if you would get a lemon product or not.

Depending on your media consumption, for UHD, the sources now are not a lot for now. If I am not wrong, mediacorp's digital should be until 1080p, so UHD may be overkill for now but could be more future proof. If you watch a lot of blu-ray, then UHD may be worth it.

I recommend getting the biggest size TV you can since it is likely you will get used to the size after awhile.

Hi Desmond!

Thanks for the advice. I was also leaning towards LG or Samsung or Sony since my family's used these brands for quite a number of years now. I'm so terrible with electronics I think I break them by standing near them. Or actually on a side note all phones break (their screens go crazy) just under 2 years (not long enough till my plans are eligible for recontracting) when I use them all except Apple that's how I became an iPhone user. Laptops don't last with me too. :(

But I digress.

I don't watch a lot of TV and mostly just use them to stream something from online. So I'm not sure whether UHD was overkill or not. But I agree with you UHD is future proof and will probably last longer before they become obsolete. Will keep it in mind! Thanks for the support as well!! Will you be doing a reno blog too?

 

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Hi sapphira, I love all of your ideas, as they have the same concept of what I envision my home will become. I'm very excited to check out the progress of your reno!

 

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God morgen! (Good morning ~ Norwegian)

Cool autumn morning in Norway~ This one's from my personal collection. The lake behind our hostel called Sognsvann Lake which we did jogs and walks around preventing fats from accumulating when we cooked big fat dinners~

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I've totally forgotten to add yesterday that I will not be doing any ceiling works for my place. This is to maintain the height of the ceiling so that the place remains big and airy.

Also I hate creepy crawlies! Given our sensitive noses and my fear of anything with 6 to 8 legs (and bonus to them if they have wings), which ceilings like these attract with a vengeance, we've given big NOs to anyone that tells us we should do concealment works with a false ceiling.

How we'll be overcoming this design wise, we still have to confer with our professional ID but we are happy to have track lights installed and also hopefully, we will be able to achieve clean black lines that will tie in with the aluminium frames of the glass partitions and enhance the design element. *prays hard*

Have any of you got innovative ideas with how to route piping to minimise the design impact?

As for the master bedroom, we had 2 main considerations whilst I was initially doing the space planning.

1. The wardrobe area needed to be partially enclosed so that I could do my makeup and change without waking my hubz

2. Tons of wardrobe space so that I can keep my bags, and accessories all out of sight and take them out only when I needed them

I tend to be an early riser as it's become a habit for me to arrive in the office on the free trains. Good thing about it is that I don't have to squeeze with the rush hour crowd and also I get to clear out my work before the office comes to life. It's now become even more of an incentive cause I can spend part of the mornings updating this blog! :jammin:

The fiance is a light sleeper and he's especially sensitive to light in his surroundings. As such, inspired by the following photo, I suggested we use the wardrobe to partition the area. We wanted to buy PAX units from IKEA but they didn't reach the top of the ceiling thus we could only do built ins to fulfill the purpose intended.

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I had a light bulb moment when I thought of this and I was like, instead of wasting the back side of the closet facing the bed area, why not make the wardrobe 2 sided? The initial idea was to expand the wardrobe in width and make both sides of the same wardrobe accessible via sliding doors. However, the IDs actually recommended building 2 wardrobes and putting them back to back given the standard sizing of the hangers and drawer mechanisms etc. After much consideration, they said the space given made it feasible and thus the both of us now have got wardrobe space the worth the envy of any female! :wub:

The design of the wardrobe that I've envisioned looks very much like the following... Look at the understated use of the wooden door handles to accent the white laminate.

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Then we have the vanity area which hopefully looks at awesome as this!

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Instead of the chair and the rod though I've actually made my first "splurge" and bought this PS 2014 to use as my vanity ledge for my make up, skincare products and to hang my day to day jewelry. Our original intention was to build a ledge there but it would have cost like 5 times the cost with no enhancement to the design aesthetics at all. I'm glad I found this piece! It was love at first sight.

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Finally, we're looking at bedframes that have some under bed storage and and also a headboard that might save us the need to by bedside tables. BRIMNES from IKEA is something we're leaning to at the moment but I've heard the odd size of IKEA beds make it difficult to buy bedlinen. Is that true?

XOXO,

Sapphira

Edited by sapphire89
 

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Hi sapphira, I love all of your ideas, as they have the same concept of what I envision my home will become. I'm very excited to check out the progress of your reno!

Hi ifp! Thanks for the encouragement! I'm looking forward to sharing the progress as well :) Hope you enjoy reading!

 

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Oooo what a busy weekend and it's been so fruitful!

We've finally booked our actual day package for the wedding next year. Went with the same one as we did our pre-wedding photoshoot. I see wings sprout from our money! *Kaching Kaching* :bleah:

As we had our HLE letter for the flat reassessed via the HDB portal and over emails, we were informed of the approval and I went into the portal to check the new letter only to find that our appointment date to collect the keys was approved for end of the month. Can you imagine the "OMG OMG OMGs" that were going through my mind. Straight screenshot and sent to the fiance~ Totally over the moon! :yeah:

Side story for some couples out there~ When we first applied for our HLE, the fiance hadn't graduated and I'd only started my job for about 3 months. so the HLE amount was puny! Anyway, when it got automatically reassessed a month or so back, HDB, I don't know if they weren't thinking or what, but they managed to automatically re-approve the HLE without changing anything. They should have realised that the HLE was based on a single income and also they knew that both of us now had CPF contributions as their letter added both our CPF amounts together! What a contradiction in a single letter! They should do more homework and improve this. The appeal was painless and swift via the portal but it would have save us all time if they got it right the first time round. If anyone needs advice on the reassessment, do PM me :) Now, back to the main story...

We walked around looking at TVs in Best and Harvey Norman who were on sale all weekend~ I suspect they're on sale every weekend... Hmmm... :huh: We were sort of looking at the TVs to gauge the sizes and we've come to a conclusion that we need at least a 48 inch one but a 50 inch one would suit us best. As usual, the Samsung ones are a tad too expensive and visual's a little supersaturated but we are halfway sold on a Sony Bravia TV which looks pretty good. 50' going at $1500 (sale price). We're hoping to find something about 200 bucks cheaper but if we can't find anything, we will likely just go back for this one.

Finally, to complete the mood boards for my place today~

We're left with the 2 guestrooms one of which we're converting to our study and another we're using as a guestroom. We're leaving the common toilet as it is only installing a sliding L shaped screen in the shower area and also we're self doing the acrylic panes to replace the unsightly mesh HDB contractors use to hide the pipes. Our ID's recommended this place which a number of T-bloggers here have used as well. For the master toilet, we will be replacing the vanity sink that's come with toilet fittings that HDB have installed, replacing with our own vanity and mirror set that the ID will be designing. The counter top will be Kompacplus. Lurvesss! Finally, we're installing a swing door shower screen as well. Hopefully, we'll be able to make our master toilet cosy!

Reason we're doing up the remaining 2 rooms ourselves is the cost involved in doing carpentry work and also cause we didn't want something very permanent. I also wanted to have a hand in doing the decorating. Years of playing the Sims actually gets put to good use in real life. The guestroom especially would eventually make way for our future kids and will need to grow with them. The study on the other hand, we've got loads of books which only increases as we get older and we'd like to make the study something of a library. You won't believe it costs more than $3k just to build a full height, full length bookcase! Actually, you probably would but I'd rather think of other ways and if I can't, I'll get the ID to just build me one nearing the end of the renovations.... Fingers crossed!

So the guestroom will need to have the following and we're going to IKEA decorate the place since it's cost effective and also easily replaceable.

The concept will be something like this...

One of the walls will be painted grey the rest will remain white. We'll put in a daybed/sofa/single/double bed in one corner. Plush cushions all over. Light drapes on the windows which will be a translucent white day curtain and a darker grey blackout curtain. We'll be putting in an armchair in the corner with a standing lamp next to it by the window for our guest to chill out and read maybe? We will also have a dresser with a mirror resting on top which will serve as a vanity area. We'll also be getting a hanging rack so that our guests can hang up their clothes etc. This will be something like the Scandinavian clothes shops sort of hanging racks~

I just have to add that this HEMNES day bed is absolutely great. There are storage options, and also depending on the number of guests, we can also pull this out into a double bed. A great use of space.

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We'll also be adding some art maybe recreating the photo ledge that we have in the dining area to this room so that we can swap the pictures around once in awhile. I'm thinking of soft colours for the art in this room to bring some life and Iris Grace paintings/prints seem like the way to go. The paintings are lovely and also they're for a good cause so why not!

As for the study, we're going for a library sort of look in this room so we will have a full wall bookcase down one length.

My idea of nice book cases doesn't have doors. The fiance says I'll need to do the dusting. *Pouts*

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I'll also be getting this from IKEA. I'm picking the solid wood top as we all know their plywood tops are hopeless! Also the solid wood top has lovely wood grains which fits into the house theme perfectly.

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That's all folks! Next up initial ID reviews! Look forward to the next piece!

XOXO,

Sapphira

Edited by sapphire89
 

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Sapphira's guide to choosing an ID

After much of the banter on design inspirations, it's time to get down to some of the serious stuff.

Before you even go out and look for your ID, I think the most important step you have to take in your design process is actually ask yourself what do you want out of the entire process. What sort of criteria are you setting your standards on and what are the works that you need, want and don't need. One thing we've learnt is that if you have a clear goal of what you need to do with your house, you will not be led on and round in circles by the ID when the bring you into your first discussion. Second thing is that you'll be able to make more conscious decisions that allow you to work within your budget.

Next of course, you need to set a budget for you to work with. Young couples like us might have several major cash outflows e.g. wedding expenses, reno expenses, so you need a spreadsheet most likely to keep track of your inflows and outflows to ensure you have sufficient cash to deal with the renovations and then the furnishing of your new home. We're self financing so sticking to our budget is very important for us.

We originally set our budget for renovations at $20k but we realised very quickly that we were very naive when we set it at that level. There was little we could do with $20k so we later agreed to stretch it out to $28k. We could probably have got away with a lower budget had we gone for a contractor, but we didn't want to manage every inch of the renovations ourselves given that the house was due in 1st quarter next year. Of course, this has changed now to the end of this month. Woohoo! And in fact, if we knew that the house would arrive early, I would have easily said let's go for a contractor instead. First and last quarters of the year are busy periods for us so we needed the extra hand.

So if you've got the time and the energy and direction with regard to the design of your house, I highly recommend you go with a contractor as I've noticed that IDs usually have a 20-25% margin to attain. I don't mind the margin cause I know an ID needs to be salaried too! >.< You'll notice that the criteria is highlighted with "and". I can honestly say that you need to have all 3 before you decide to go for a contractor. Otherwise, you'll need to be a pro-juggler which most of the time means you'll eventually burn out depending on how big your project is. And if you burn out, you miss details which may lead to the outcome falling short of your expectations.

For us, we accepted earlier on that we would not be able to focus full time into managing the entire project so we went ID searching about 2 months back. Since then, every Saturday's been meet the ID day for us and we've met up twice with each ID before narrowing down our choices and meeting the IDs to see their current/completed projects before finally deciding on 1. In total, we met 4 IDs though we researched much more online before getting to the 4.

I'll have to say go with the Qantvas app as it is really convenient and there are tons of design inspirations and reviews you can read on the go. I didn't go with the Renotalk one because most of the designers featured a modern look or resort look which I wasn't going for and didn't think it will be relevant to contact them. Out of the 5 recommended to me, I set appointments up for 3 who got back to me and 1 I ignored despite them contacting me. The other never came back. We also set up an appointment with 1 which we met at an expo fair whom was fairly knowledgeable about our requirements and we could get along with.

Our first strikeout was S***** H********. They were initially part of the list that we had come up with ourselves and their numerous FB updates and pictures won our hearts as they were so in tune with the scandi, minimalist theme thing that we had conceptualised. However, despite us sending a request via their website and through the Qantvas recommendation, till date, they have not emails/called us or made any form of contact. Probably cause they're popular and busy? An acknowledgement would at least have been appreciated! :angry2:

Our next strikeout was Sp*** At*****. They were actually the first to contact us. The bloke on the other end of the phone, was very earnest and a tad bit too excited. I hadn't read the email he had sent yet and so I told him that I will get back to him once I discussed with the fiance on a time and date to set the appointment up. Was a fact at that point in time as I didn't know of them and I hadn't had time to research on them. He was a Chinese guy and trying to communicate with me in English was a little difficult for him over the phone and I converted to Mandarin but I still didn't feel I could communicate effectively with him too. Once I read the email, I told myself, if all else doesn't work out, we'll try with them again. They was located the furthest among the IDs we had shortlisted to meet and it just wasn't convenient for us to go to them. To our surprise, the next morning, we were again contacted by them! Same introduction saying we were referred to them via Qantvas and he will be taking care of our enquiries. This was the final straw on why we axed them actually. Might be a little unfair but we felt if you couldn't coordinate well within your office, how can you expect your potential client to be confident that you can coordinate our project effectively? :no:

Next came the ones with the better potential.

V*** from Veg** Int***** - we met him at an expo fair and we got chatting with him about flat layouts and how we'd like to play around with ours and he started showing us actual photos of his projects at the fair himself which were more toward the industrial end of the design scale. He wasn't really sure of scandinavian at the time and he gladly admitted it to us. Though we also saw potential in him that he could grasp the concept easily. He also explained to us that the concept that the business model that their company worked with was different from other. They would first require $2,000 to do all the design work and the laminate selection which they will compile and deliver as a final product. In the design, they will include everything that you dream of and also all the sample laminates will be provided to you such that if after the design process, you didn't want to go with them, you could take the design and the laminate samples to a contractor of your choice and have them finish the work for you. Only if you decide to go with them will they formally quote you. This was a big question mark in our opinion which whilst their concept was interesting, also was their greatest disadvantage. We met up with him for an initial discussion to have a feel of their offices and how they work. They were undergoing renovations and apparently according to V, had just received a major investment in the company and were expanding further to the 2nd floor. We had a look the then renovating showroom and were quite happy with the skill of their contractors. V went through space planning with us where we shared our ideas with him and he provided us with practical ideas with regards to saving costs like not having false ceilings (which I'm all for) and taking into consideration the height limits for the glass panels to fit into a HDB lift. While he did say he wouldn't formally quote us till later, based on the space planning which he did on the spot, he made rough measurements and quoted estimated costs for us! On hindsight after all the IDs we met, he was actually pretty spot on with his estimates as he was very very close to all the other quotes that were provided. In the end, we relegated him to our back up plan due to the fact that they wanted the money up front to do the design and while their design will be very detailed, we were not confident that after going through all the changes, we will be able to cut out what we didn't want to stick within our budget. Otherwise, we clicked well with him and his wealth of experience shows in the practical advice he gave us and the ability to without reference to anything at all quote us a estimated price of an item e.g. our kitchen island. Another thing is they are registered for CASE Trust so it's a good security net in case anything goes wrong.

Jo*** from Sp*** Def*** - She was the last ID we met for initial space planning talks and by then we were pretty tired of reiterating our points over and over again and having them tell us that our plans were applicable in reality. Jo was very detailed in taking down our requirements though when we met her the second time and she showed us a sketchup of the project, there were some points that still needed to be corrected though we knew we had told her what we wanted specifically. For example, we explicitly said that we wanted the kitchen counter top of be Kompacplus, however, when the quote came in, she had quoted solid surface for everything. It was a big minus in my box though the fiance was fine with the minor mistake that she corrected immediately. She also showed us current 3D of ideas for current projects with the same theme and I have to admit they all looked really good. She didn't have any pics of the real projects to show us so that we could compare though. We actually liked the fact that she was able to show us the level of experience she had with the theme and we could lift the ideas off the current ones she had and put our place together. Only problem was there was nothing new that she could add that we didn't already know that could wow us. She was friendly and approachable but I felt she didn't make an extra effort to build up a rapport with us even when we tried to give her a chance to do so. She would always go back to the work at hand and it just didn't feel very personal to me. That being said, she was able to remind us that the kitchen walls would all be tiled and that if we were extending the kitchen out, we need to consider that one of the walls would be half tile and half painted.

G*** from Ate**** C****** - First thing about him that strikes you is that he is dressy! However, he's not very good with time (he was late the second time we met him). We met him one Sat afternoon in his office/showroom which to be honest was bright and open and fit my theme like a glove. It was a great first impression for me. We went through the space planning with him and he was able to also introduce me a smart home tech that I absolutely love! I didn't like the HDB switch which made so much noise and I told him I would like the switches to be touch panel. He immediately showed me the ones in his showroom and I was in love. They're called Hello Switches and if anyone's interested, I've found them online. (http://www.hap.sg/hello-switch.html) I admit it was because of this that I've got a little biased towards G especially when he threw them in complimentary for me. What I didn't like about the company was that they built their quotes around the standard packages which they had. This reduced a lot of transparency in comparing the quotes to all the other IDs and also prevented me from removing stuff that I didn't want. He would use something that I didn't want in the package and offset for something that I was dying to have and then I was so confused by the whole thing I had to excel spreadsheet his quotes and analysed item for item against the quotes from the other IDs which was a chore. Using his quote as a base, I realized that what he was providing me was actually the same as what the others had quoted me and the only advantage he had was that he could give me the switches and the service yard windows and grilles. His quote did not include tiles for any of the masonry work which put him at a disadvantage and despite numerous attempts to get him to include it, he was vague about the issue. In the end, he was one of our final 2 contenders and we did go see one completed project of his which was very lovely and also instilled confidence in us that he could handle our renovation. G was also fairly insistent in the initial point that we should go with cove lighting that was part of their package which we flatly refused a number of times. Eventually, he offset the cove lighting with something else which I can't remember. On our second appointment, we arranged to meet him at his office again in the morning without realising that the offices actually opened at noon. He agreed and we arrived about 10 mins ahead of time to find the offices not opened and the opening hours were noted 2 hours after our appointment time. Thinking he might still be on his way, we wait till 5 mins past the appointment time before texting him. He didn't reply till about 10mins later and said he needed 20 mins to get there. Obviously, while it didn't bother us very much, we thought if we knew about the opening hours we would have suggested some other time but since he agreed to meet us earlier, we thought he should at least have let us know that they didn't open at that time and ask if it was convenient to meet us another time. Otherwise, do not be 40 mins late for your appointment.

Finally, J&J from D* S***** - This is a very new firm only set up last year but apparently they've been around for quite awhile in the industry. They were even more detailed than Jo with our requirements and were the only one to actually quote the tiles in and include hacking works for the expanded kitchen area to replace the tiles. It was a plus that their offices had a glass partitioned room which was somewhat like what I wanted for the kitchen and it made it very easy for us to articulate to them what we wanted in terms of the glass wall. J&J were very good with their follow ups and we had a very good feeling about them after our initial meet even though the first meeting was quite short and to the point. The have this good rapport going between the team and I would say they gave off a very indie boutique like feel. You can tell J the designer was pretty new to this while J the sales consultant was the one with the experience in handling clients but they were able to listen to what we required and put together in detail what we needed. We had to cut a number of things so that the quote fit our budget but we got to a happy point where the main items were included and were in our budget of $28k. This was the point I was making about know what you needed then wanted and didn't want so that you know what to prioritise and what to compromise on to achieve your budget. In the end, most IDs are pretty competitive (given the nature of business and the number of IDs around) so what you want in terms of carpentry is going to affect whether you burst your budget or not. We went on to see one of their existing renovations which they showed us in detail the work and attention they pay to their projects. In fact, while there's not much about them online, which they admit is a big minus to them, they actually have quite a number of projects that they wanted to bring us to. The owner of the first project we went to was a very cheery person and he was cleaning the place up when we arrived. He happily showed us what was done and some clever innovations that J&J helped him with. After that we thought that was it but we got driven to another one which they had not handed over and took a tour inside and we were quite happy with what we saw in terms of the kitchen carpentry. Needless to say, despite the company being so young, we decided to take a risk and go with them.

Last thoughts... In the end, I'm glad we only interviewed 4 IDs for our project as anymore we would have gotten so confused and wouldn't be able to choose. But I really admire you guys out there that have done so much ID visiting but 4 makes me a happy person already!

Now that was a really long post!!! I'm now ready for lunch!

Tata!

XOXO,

Sapphira

 

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